While free quotes from health insurance agents can make shopping for medical coverage easy, understanding the free quotes can be confusing. According to government analysts, the following five factors play the biggest roles in determining whether you can qualify for a cheap health insurance policy:
Many Americans first receive health insurance through a group plan, often sponsored by an employer. Because most groups are tightly defined, underwriters can often predict a group's overall health care needs. Meanwhile, participants in individual plans are evaluated based on broad demographics. Therefore, premiums for participants in group coverage plans tend to be much less expensive than premiums for individual plans. In many states, knowledgeable health insurance agents can help self-employed professionals qualify for group coverage.
Nearly all discount insurance plans rely on one of three systems to help keep costs down. A Health Management Organization (HMO) requires enrollees to work through a network of primary care physicians who coordinate referrals to specialists. Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) offer more flexibility by allowing enrollees to visit any participating doctor. Point of Sale (POS) plans coordinate coverage through primary care physicians and a network of discounted health care facilities.
Every health plan sets a deductible, or an amount that policyholders are required to pay before benefits kick in. Typically, a cheap health insurance policy comes with a higher deductible. Many discount insurance providers now offer tax-advantaged medical savings programs that can be used to cover high deductibles. These plans offer healthy individuals the opportunity to lower monthly health care expenses while building an emergency savings fund.
Each health insurance package offers a fixed list of covered services. Discount insurance packages frequently cover only preventive care visits and medical emergencies. Consumers often bear the full cost of elective procedures or specialist visits under such plans. Families with young children or prospective parents should consider health insurance policies with more comprehensive coverage, despite higher premiums. State and federal regulations require agents to disclose a list of covered services when providing free quotes.
Throughout most of the country, discount insurance packages enforce special rules for consumers with medical conditions that predate their insurance policies. Companies that cover pre-existing conditions often do so at a higher rate. Some states allow underwriters to reject applicants with severe pre-existing conditions. Most states that allow health insurance carriers to reject applicants also facilitate "high risk pools." These state-subsidized programs offset the costs of treating pre-existing conditions for patients who otherwise would not have access to traditional health insurance.
About the Author
Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.